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Social Bookmarking and the Questioning Historian


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Presentation from Teaching and Technology: Making Digital History workshop at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, 14th March 2015.

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Social Bookmarking and the Questioning Historian

  1. 1. Social Bookmarking and the Questioning Historian Dr Jamie Wood University of Lincoln History Lab Plus, March 14th 2013 Digital T&L at Lincoln: Twitter: @MakDigHist
  2. 2. Research into Technology use in History HE teaching • Virtual learning environments predominate and are viewed positively by students and staff • BUT danger of ‘miscommunication’ • Independent learning + research skills vs. access to resources • Limiting features • Consistency? ‘Getting all lecturers to embrace technology would be a step forward’ (student) • Staff AND students think that it doesn’t help much in certain areas (e.g. team- working) • Narrowing/ a closed body of knowledge? Esp. for weaker students perhaps • Can promote transmission approaches (even when not intended)
  3. 3. Digital literacy, active online learning and disciplinary identity • How to overcome some of shortcomings of over-reliance on VLE? – Use social media to facilitate engagement and collaboration – Design activities that require active work/ thinking by students = a constructivist approach, actually making stuff
  4. 4. Social bookmarking • Internet users manage bookmarks of web pages online (not an individual browser) using tags/ descriptions, not folders • Active engagement – students have to do something • Online/ social element – enables collaboration, sharing and visibility See Taha and Wood (2011) for more on this
  5. 5. •Diigo education edition •Private, separate logins •Sharing •Highlighting •Sticky-noting
  6. 6. Basic weekly activity • Students find online resources relating to the weekly topic • Students ‘tag’, describe and share resources • Then post questions based on reading to discussion forum in diigo • Resources + questions = my seminar plan • For some of resources see: er/pagansxtians
  7. 7. But variety is key... Locating and bookmarking source(s) • Find and bookmark primary/ secondary source • Add description and tags Essay writing • Respond to feedback on essays by bookmarking a relevant site • Revise thesis statement from first essay and post to discussion forum Non-written sources • Find and bookmark a non- written source (YouTube; Flickr) • In description, explain why this source is relevant to the seminar Highlighting • Highlight and comment on relevant sections of a pre-selected document Questioning • Post a (specific kind of) question based on reading to the discussion forum ...otherwise it gets boring See appendix to Wood, 2011, for more on this
  8. 8. What happened • 19 students • 147 posts to the forum (over 11 seminars) • 314 bookmarks, using 590 different tags
  9. 9. STUDENT FEEDBACK 1. Practical: for preparing essays 2. Independence: enjoyed opportunity to find sources 3. Freedom: ‘There is more freedom of choice about what to read’ 4. Variety: ‘it is much more interesting, and because you are not only reading, it is easier to absorb information’.
  10. 10. LEARNING FROM OTHERS • ‘it has been good to see what other people have put and there was probably more variation in the questions than if the tutor was to set them.’ • ‘it allows you to see a wider range of issues that come up from sources - some that you may not even have thought about.’ + 12 out of 15 students felt that their research skills had improved
  11. 11. Setting questions – 3 conceptions By tutor: reassuring; makes sure what you are doing is relevant + useful; student questions might not be challenging enough; more likely to lead to a ‘good’ answer; helps with new areas of study Mixture: “A mixture is best to make sure key themes are not overlooked by setting your own questions gets yourself and others thinking more.” By students: “I like the fact that we've got to set our own questions as it means that we focus on areas that I or other members of the group are unsure about. I think I've learnt more from it.”
  12. 12. POSING QUESTIONS AND SOURCES • ‘it forces you to think about the source material and be analytical in response to it’ • ‘it […] opens up the area of reading to different paths of thought.’ ‘I used to prefer having the questions set for me but I think it has been more useful setting them myself as it has made me think about the reading more.’
  13. 13. • Models disciplinary processes (= what historians do) – [+ it’s realistic and honest] • Develops – Disciplinary skills: summarising; using sources – Knowledge: students have to read AND think – ‘Generic’ skills: technology; information literacy; research For more on this see Wood, 2011 and Wood and Ryan, 2010
  14. 14. Concluding thoughts • VLEs support learning and are viewed positively • Gaps may be addressed by thinking more about active online learning and student-generated/- curated content • Not about replacing the classroom, but about augmenting it • Develops useful skills and knowledge that are NOT necessarily opposed to developing historical skills and understanding • …and it’s fun…
  15. 15. More On social bookmarking at Lincoln, Sussex and LJMU, see: Wood, Matthews Jones, Taylor et al (2014) My email: